On 25/05/2013 11:56, Julie Moore wrote:
Looking at this from an international point-of-view … I was quite surprised when I was in Japan in 2010 by how few just regular Japanese households had PCs. I don’t know what the numbers are, but I know they are significantly less than in the U.S. A friend of mine who lives there noted that a lot of people deal with computers at work, but they are not something necessarily considered for the home. Yet, it seemed that nearly everyone had some sort of cell phone and were texting (not a Smart Phone, necessarily). It seemed as if they kind of jumped the whole computers at home thing and went straight to cell phones. This lack of computers in the homes surprised me (probably because of my own preconceived notions of what to expect there, especially given that so much high tech electronic hardware is produced in Japan.)
Additionally, I also noted that most people were still reading paper books … rather than some electronic ebook reader.
The latest statistics I have seen on this are from the World Bank http://data.worldbank.org/indicator/IT.NET.USER.P2. As you point out, many do not have actual PCs but use various smart phones (especially here in Italy). But even those countries that have less “access” to the internet does not mean people have no access at all. They may not be paying for access from home but there may be “Internet Points” (as they are called here) where they are vastly popular, if nothing else, for using Skype so that people from other countries can speak with their families. Video too! Mostly, the price is reasonable, e.g. 1 euro an hour or so. And of course, if someone gives you a phone, you can sit at one of the many bars or other businesses with free wifi, or there are even areas in Rome where the city provides wifi access for free to anyone, such as on the tram.
I thought I could never read a book on a smart phone, but I have read several on mine with no problem. This goes for any epub/kindle format but I have even read some pdfs. Some friends of mine watch movies and do everything else on them. So, this is what I am saying: if someone realizes that a mobile computing device can replace the TV, radio, fixed phone, DVD player, record player, books, magazines, the mail, you need it to find work, you can take online classes on them, and who knows what else it will be able to do–and you can access the internet for free (although it may be a pain to go to a wifi area)–the device begins to seem much more reasonably priced. Especially a used one.
But I don’t know how many people out there really understand what is truly available on the internet. Some use them just for games, texting, and phone calls.
Libraries are great for printed materials. If that were the situation we are facing, libraries would be in great shape and wouldn’t need to change much. But that environment is changing and libraries must adapt by helping to give the public (who pays for them) what they want and need.